The Second Half of Life

I’m 55 years old. Really. It seems like yesterday I was bopping down the streets of Manhattan with my buddies and today I’m in bed by 10 pm. And whose body is this? Not to mention the fact that now that I’m in my 50’s, what do I want to do with the rest of my life, what’s left of it that is!

I think that as a Baby Boomer, especially one who reveled in the excitement and rebellion of the late 60’s and 70’s, this major life transition is even more wrenching… especially when my mind and body seem to exist on two separate planes! I still love the latest rock and roll music. I am a campus activist at heart. I love going out with friends in the City and staying out late but it gets harder and harder to get up the next day.

Aside from the physical aspects of aging, the over-riding transition I am experiencing right now is the realization that time is finite. Of all the things I still long to do, I’ll need to do them soon or give them up. The future doesn’t stretch out infinitely like it used to. Given the fact that I have lived for over half a century, a stretch of another 20 years doesn’t seem like a great deal of time anymore.

In our twenties and thirties, even our forties for that matter, we did things mainly out of necessity. We got jobs so we could pay the rent or mortgage and then to support a family. Our careers may not have been everything that we had dreamed of or even expected but they paid the bills, no small feat. Some of us were lucky enough to have work that we loved, which really is a blessing. But we certainly put many of our dreams or yearnings on a back-burner.

So now, for many of us, as our children have grown and will soon head off into lives of their own, we start to really consider what our future looks like in our second half of life. We may be living a single life, because of divorce, death or simply the fact that that’s the way we like it. We look at this second half of life with a very different perspective than we did the first half. We find ourselves asking questions that we hadn’t given much weight to before.

Questions like: If I only have another 20 or 30 years left, what do I want to do with them? Do I want to do something meaningful with my work versus just earning a living? What legacy will I leave behind for friends and family? Legacy? The truth is staring us in the eyes. Death is not something just relegated to our grandparents anymore. For many of us, we are the grandparents!

What about my passions and the things that I really love? When am I going to see Europe, something I always told myself I would do? How about the fact that I was such a great artist in high school? I always wanted to take singing lessons. Is it too late? Actually, is it too late to recreate myself, to do all the things I want to do, to be all the things I want to be?
The fact is - it is too late when we say it’s too late. But guess what? It’s never too late. As a matter of fact, much of what we want to do now is what we couldn’t have done back then. And guess what else? Some of the best known people in the world didn’t see success or find themselves until after their fortieth birthday. Who? Well, Paul Gauguin, the artist, worked in a bank and was 43 when he finally moved to Tahiti to become a full-time artist. Raymond Chandler, the highly successful writer, didn’t get published until he was 45! Julia Child didn’t learn to cook until she was 37. Who else? Ed Sullivan, President Harry Truman, Coco Chanel, Paul Cezanne and Buckminster Fuller to name but a few. So go for it! If these guys can be successful late in life, we certainly can muster up the courage and energy to do the things we’ve always dreamed of doing.

We aren’t 20 years old anymore which by the way is a relief! For me, the years have provided so much deep wisdom. I know now what I didn’t know then and it serves me well. Tapping into the well of wisdom and acknowledging it within us is an affirming and empowering exercise. It gives us the self-esteem and confidence to move forward into this second half of life.

So, here’s the deal. It is time for us to start a deep inquiry on exactly what we want out of life from here on out. Now. Think about it. If we live until the ripe old age of 80, we’re already well into our second half. So how do we determine what it is we want out of the future?

Number One: Re-connect or connect with what matters to you most in life. What are the things that you value the most? What can’t you live without? What do you love to do? What’s missing? What are your passions? What makes you come alive? What motivates you?

Make a list of all these items and then reduce that list to create your top five. That doesn’t mean that the others are not in the plan, far from it. Just concentrate right now on the things that mean the absolute most to you. Does your present life reflect your values and your passions?

If you are to live the rest of your life in a meaningful and rewarding way, you must honor those passions and values on a daily basis. For example, if your work is drudgery, look at making a change now. If your primary and important relationships are not what you want them to be, start looking at ways it improve them so they are nurturing and meaningful. You deserve it.

Number Two: Envision yourself in ten years as the person who has actually made all the changes needed to be happy and fulfilled. What did that future self do in order to get where they are? Ask them. Then take that advice and begin today to start down the road to that future. Start by ensuring that today you will embody that future self. Be that Future Self now. Being is accomplished by doing.

Do this exercise. It’s your 90th birthday party and the people who mean the most to you are there. They are giving tributes to you and your life. What do you want them to say about yourself? Write out some tributes, perhaps from a child, a partner, a friend. Then study these tributes to make sure that your daily life reflects behavior that is connected to them.

Three: Clarify your Vision of your Future Self and establish the goals that will lead you to that self. If you want to be retired in 5 years, what do you need to do differently now to accomplish that goal? What three things could you immediately do to get started ? Who do you need to talk to clarify your goal? What support do you need?

With all that we have experienced, with all that we know, the second half of our lives can truly be glorious. We Baby Boomers have always been in the forefront of doing what is best for ourselves while contributing to the world around us. What was best for us and the world is undoubtedly different from what it was 20 or 30 years ago. You need to re-examine those priorities now.

We are different people than we once were. Acknowledging who we are now and who we want to become puts us on the road to positive changes and a future filled with great possibilities. Don’t even think about resigning yourself to a life that doesn’t work for you. The key is to ensure that we are living our lives in the realm of what is possible, not impossible. Know that what is possible is fully in your control. Just don’t wait.

Author's Bio: 

Shelley Stile is an ACC certified Divorce Recovery Life Coach and author who guides her clients to let go the pain of their divorce and move on to create new and vibrant lives after divorce. Shelley has been through her own divorce so she knows first-hand about the journey of divorce recovery. Shelley coaches her clients on a one-on-one basis and also leads tele-seminars and workshops. She has published powerful articles and books on life after divorce and is the author of the new book, 95 Transformational Tips for Letting Go and Moving On After Your Divorce available at

She is a certified coach and member of the International Coaches Federation, the governing body for Life Coaching. Shelley trained with the Coaches Training Institute and the Ford Institute for Integrative Coaching’s Spiritual Divorce Recovery.

Receive her free, powerful e-book, The 10 Secrets to Coping with Divorce’, and her monthly ‘Take Back Your Life After Divorce’ Newsletter by going to: or contact Shelley at to schedule a free consultation and sample session of divorce coaching. For more information on Divorce Recovery Coaching, go to